How did the American people come to develop a moral association with this land, such that their very experience of nationhood was rooted in, and their republican virtues depended upon, that land? And what is happening now as the exclusivity of that moral linkage between people and land becomes ever more attenuated? In Place and Belonging in America, David Jacobson addresses the evolving relationship between geography and citizenship in the United States since the nation's origins.
Americans have commonly assumed that only a people rooted in a bounded territory could safeguard republican virtues. But, as Jacobson argues, in the contemporary world of transnational identities, multiple loyalties, and permeable borders, the notion of a singular territorial identity has lost its resonance. The United States has come to represent a diverse quilt of cultures with varying ties to the land. These developments have transformed the character of American politics to one in which the courts take a much larger role in mediating civic life. An expanding web of legal rights enables individuals and groups to pursue their own cultural and social ends, in contrast to the civic republican practice of an active citizenry legislating its collective life.
In the first part of his sweeping study, Jacobson considers the origins of the uniquely American sense of place, exploring such components as the Puritans and their religious vision of the New World; the early Republic and agrarian virtue as extolled in the writings of Thomas Jefferson; the nationalization of place during the Civil War; and the creation of post-Civil War monuments and, later, the national park system. The second part of Place and Belonging in America concerns the contemporary United States and its more complex interactions between space and citizenship. Here Jacobson looks at the multicultural landscape as represented by the 1991 act of Congress that changed the name of the Custer Battlefield National Monument to Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument and the subsequent construction of a memorial honoring the Indian participants in the battle; the Vietnam Veterans Memorial; and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. He also reflects upon changing patterns of immigration and settlement. At once far-reaching and detailed, Place and Belonging in America offers a though-provoking new perspective on the myriad, often spiritual connections between territoriality, national identity, and civic culture.
David Jacobson is a professor of sociology at Arizona State University. He is the author of Rights across Borders: Immigration and the Decline of Citizenship.
" Place and Belonging in America should provoke reflection on the importance of issues such as immigration, geographic mobility, and globalization for the viability of politics, properly understood."
— Jeremy Beer - Perspectives on Political Science
"Jacobson's lucid and insightful analysis is multilayered and interdisciplinary. Along with deft historical interpretation and incisive sociological investigation, he integrates discussions on politics, philosophy, literature, and religion, highlighting their roles in revealing American's evolving sense of place and identity."
— Virginia Quarterly Review
"Paying keen attention to interpretation, textuality, and the social uses of landscape, Jacobson's study engages questions that make it a must read."
— Susan Kollin - Journal of American History
"A thoughtful overview of major events and changes to the American linkages of place and identity to the landscape."
— William G. Holt - Contemporary Sociology
"Modeling the best of interdisciplinary scholarship, David Jacobson demonstrates the ways in which American representations of self, the human, and consciousness are interwoven with shifting American conceptualizations of time, place, and civic life. Grounded in historical analysis, philosophical in tone, and shaped largely by insights derived from the social sciences, Place and Belonging in America recalls Jonathan Edwards's eighteenth-century reflections on the beauty of history as much as the most slashing postmodern depictions of historical irony. This is an impressive work of synthesis, a beautifully-written book that deserves a wide audience."
— John Corrigan, Edwin Scott Gaustad Professor of Religion and Professor of History, Florida State University, author of Business of the Heart: Religion and Emotion in the Nineteenth Century
"This well-written and well-researched book addresses a topic of particular interest to a variety of disciplines: the symbolic representation of space. Its specific concern is the shifting understanding and experience of 'place' in the history of the United States. In addressing this specific concern, the author has drawn upon material from the disciplines of law, history, art, and architecture. David Jacobson has moved into new areas from those covered in his previous book, and Place and Belonging in America places that earlier, good work in a conceptually richer context."
— Stephen Grosby, Clemson University
...Duty and Desire People could not live without desires for their life. To have a happy life, first of all it has to be desired. There is another aspect of life that opposite desire, duty. Both of them create life. Jasmine is the main character of the same name novel of BharatiMukherjee who struggle about what she should act to, desire or duty. She was born in a very traditional culture that supports duty while she really want to live a life that she can choose. The story begins with the appearance of an astrologer. The symbol of astrologer gives readers the idea that future is settled. The old astrologer who can guess the future, or can tell what is the duty, or fate, of the young girl, Jasmine. Although this is the words of the astrologer, Jasmine does not accept the future that he tells her. “No! You’re a crazy old man. You don’t know what my future holds (Mukherjee 3)!”In the deep of her heart, Jasmine knows the man said the truth. The young Jasmine, due to her religious and cultural mindset, has been taught to believe in predestination. She knows, ‘‘Bad times were on their way. I was helpless, doomed (Mukherjee 4).’’ Outwardly, however, she whispers to the astrologer, "I don't believe you (Mukherjee 4)." That she whispers—rather than says, or states, or shouts—indicates the tentativeness of Jasmine's position as an agent of change. The astrologer plays an all-important role in the...